Archive | January, 2014

BEER BACON NUTS

BeerBaconNuts_012514_-069-web

Beeeeer. Put it in any sort of food description and suddenly people are all “OOOOH,” and “AHHHH.” If you were to say “chocolate cake” people would be like “Oh, cool,” but if you say “beer chocolate cake” people will be like “Whhuuutttt???? I want some!” Think about it. Cheese vs. beer cheese. Pork vs. beer braised pork. Pizza vs. Beer & Pizza. It’s an instant enhancement. It’s kind of the same thing with bacon. Bacon anything is intriguing. The sentence “I have bacon chocolate chip cookies,” yields a lot more excitement than the mere “I have chocolate chip cookies.” What is it about beer and bacon that they make anything an intriguing novelty???

BeerBaconNuts_012514_-067-web

Duh. Because both are pretty awesome on their own, so obviously they’d make anything else even MORE awesome. But what if the two are paired together into one cluster of awesomeness? Do heads explode? Are minds blown? Does world peace suddenly ensue because everyone’s happy? Nah, not really. But deliciousness happens and that’s happiness enough! Let’s continue on this Super Bowl-friendly beer theme and mix in some bacon! The game is a few days away and you’re going to need some snackitude, so it’s time to get serious. Beer. Plus some bacon. Plus some nuts. All of it candied together.

Say whuuuttt? Oh yes, we’re going there. Before we get to the recipe, here are a few quick notes.

MLsNotes-420px

We've made this a few times, so we've adapted the recipe to our preferences. Such as MORE BACON. The original recipe calls for 6 slices, but we felt that wasn't enough for the amount of nuts involved. We recommend 8. I could even push it to 9, I ain't scared. But hey, it's your prerogative.
The nut selection. The original recipe calls for peanuts, corn nuts, and almonds in varying proportions. Corn nuts are perfectly un-classy and appropriate for football food, and peanuts are easy on the pocketbook (also, very football snacky). Instead of almonds, we went with pecans because we like pecans. You could use pistachios if you want. You could use whatever you have in your pantry if you want. It'll be just dandy.
As for the beers, we've used nut brown beers and regular ol' nonfancy beer. Honestly, I can't remember if it made a ginormous impact or not so I'm going to assume not. While the foodie in me should recommend a dark, nutty, rich beer, the regular schmoe in me wants to let you know that it's going to be addictive either way so just use what you have! 
This stuff gets STICKY. Portion it out using cupcake liners. It looks cute and everyone can grab a little bunch and munch. If you plan ahead and like a cute presentation, get liners in the team colors. I happened to have orange liners. I like Peyton Manning and will be cheering for the Broncos. Therefore, orange cupcake liners won.

BeerBaconNuts-Details
: : : BEER BACON NUTS : : :
Adapted from Food Network Magazine
1/3 cup beer
8 slices of UNCOOKED bacon (I know, it sounds weird, just go with it)
1 tablespoon salt
1 pinch cayenne
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups pecans
1 cup peanuts
1 cup corn nuts

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with foil. Slice the uncooked bacon.
2. Boil the beer, the sliced uncooked bacon pieces, brown sugar, salt, and cayenne. Boil until the beer evaporates and it’s a bit syrup-y, about 8 minutes.
3. Mix in the nuts and spread on the foil-lined baking sheet. Pop the pan in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. We baked it until the bacon’s texture was a little crispy.
4. Afterwards, divvy up the mixture up into cupcake cups. The yield depends on how much you want to fill the cups. To fill the cups generously to the top (like we did), you’ll yield about 16 cups.
Get it? Got it? Good. Go team!

PARTY PERFECT BEER MARGARITAS

BeerMarg_012514_-010-webAreYouReady
Sorry, I had to do it.

The Super Bowl is a week away. Do I really care about the game? Not so much. My personal preference is for college football (UC Bearcats and OSU Buckeyes, if you’re wondering) and that season is over until the fall. George cares, but since he doesn’t have a team to root for he’s kind of on the “meh” side. BUT! We do love any excuse to host a party! And while I may not go bananas for pro football, I enjoy the sport and generally miss it once it’s over. Why not usher the season out in style, you know? It gives you a perfectly acceptable reason to stuff your face with chicken wings, Fritos, weird gooey dips, and other stupid food you normally don’t eat/won’t admit to eating in public. #yolo #noshame #i’mjustsayin’ Whether you love the game, you’re just watching for the commercials, or you’re getting dragged to a party by your significant other, it’s time to embrace the culinary aspect of one of America’s biggest sporting events. I’ll drink to that!

Speaking of drinks, let’s start there. Football means beer. But what if you’re not feelin’ the beer that day? What if that guacamole dip is staring you in the face saying “Hey man, doesn’t a margarita sound really good right now?” and secretly you’re like “Yes, guac. It totally does.” I got you covered, my friend. You can combine the two. And yes, it actually works.

Most beer margarita mash-ups involve a frozen can of limeade but I’m going to be honest with you. That kind of makes me cringe. Maybe it’s because I haven’t had great experiences with limeade? It kind of tastes like a cold Jolly Rancher in a weird way? Plus, it’s filled with high fructose corn syrup. Blech. Let’s go a different route. How about fresh limes and simple syrup (or agave nectar) like an authentic margarita? Whereas many margarita recipes add sour mix as filler, there’s really no need for that when using fresh limes. And if not fresh limes, then straight up lime juice from the bottle. A little tequila, a bottle of beer, and we’re good to go!

BeerMargaritas_012514-tip

The great thing about this recipe is that it’s very scaleable. The base recipe makes 4 beverages (7 oz each), but the measurements are easy enough to double or triple.

MLsNotes-420px

Fresh-squeezed lime juice is best, which is about 6 large-sized limes.
The recipe gives a range for simple syrup amounts. Start with the lesser and test it out. You can always add more, but if it's too sweet it's hard to fix!
We used Corona for our beer. The lime-friendly, uncomplicated flavor is perfect for this.
For tequila, we used José Cuervo Especial, reposado. Now is not the time to break out your fancy, special tequila. This recipe is more punch-like in nature than it is "specialty artisan cocktail." Do you really want to water down Patron with Corona? I will note that reposado tequila gives a nice depth of flavor, since it has been aged in an oak barrel.

BeerMargaritas_012514-details

: : : Party Perfect Beer Margaritas : : :

6-7 limes, + 1 extra if you want to garnish
*Note: you will need 1 cup lime juice if you rather use bottled lime juice
1/2 – 3/4 cup simple syrup
1/2 cup tequila
12 oz (1 bottle or can) of beer, like Corona
2 TBSP kosher or margarita salt
lime wedge (still juicy!)

1. Cut limes in half and squeeze using a citrus squeezer or reamer. You will need 1 cup of juice. Pour juice through a strainer to remove the pulp.

2. In pitcher, combine lime juice, 1/2 cup simple syrup (you can always add more), and tequila.

3. For margaritas on the rocks, pour in one bottle of beer then stir. For blended drinks, pour mixture into blender with ice BEFORE adding the beer. Blend until mixture is slushy with a fine texture, then pour back into the pitcher and add beer.

4. Place salt on a small plate. Run lime wedge over rim of glasses, then dip glasses into salt. If making on-the-rocks drinks, add ice to glasses.

5. Carefully pour margarita mixture into glasses. Garnish with lime slices on the edge of the glass.

6. Drink up!

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

As promised, here’s a recipe for homemade sour mix. I promise, using real citrus juices like lime and lemon juice taste a million times better. And if you don’t want to use refined table sugar, then use demerarra/turbinado/etc.

After trying this, I’m really excited for other variations I can make when summer seasonal beers are out. We became huge fans of Leinenkugel’s Orange Shandy this year, so I think an orange-lime beer marg is in our future!

We’ll be bringing you another Super Bowl party (or just generally life appropriate) recipe in a few days that’s perfect for a snacking crowd. Tell us, do you have any Super Bowl plans? What kinds of food or drinks do you like to make for crowds?

MADELEINES: LAVENDER EARL GREY & COFFEE CHOCOLATE CHIP

Madeleines_LavErlGry-ChocCoff_74-web

The interesting part of having a food blog is figuring out your stream of content. Not that we’re new to the blogging game, but this is probably the most commitment we’ve put into a personal blog project. And w/ a food blog, you can’t just find pretty things on the internet and repost some great idea from a new perspective. I mean, you can, but you still have to walk the walk. You gotta make the stuff! And I know, y’all are probably like “Duh, no $*!#, Sherlock” but I’m serious. What do you make when you’re not feeling inspired? Or you’re like “No, I don’t want to use that idea yet,”? So while madeleines have been on my “make for the blog” list, and more importantly “make for real life because they’re delicious” list, it took me a little while to decide what I wanted to do about them. And now that I’ve been dealing with these things for a few days, I’m chock full of ideas all around madeleines! So I really hope you like them, because they’ll be coming at you a few more times in the future (but don’t worry, it won’t be like, next week or anything.). Madeleine series? I think so!

I was hoping to have this post up sooner, but we had a fun surprise Saturday morning. As we were making breakfast, I turned on the faucet to wash my hands and oh, hey! There’s no water coming out! Isn’t that fun? That put a damper in the plans, because I was all ready to bake these puppies and photograph them. So instead we got ourselves out of the house, ran errands, and enjoyed using restrooms and running water wherever else we could. It came back on later in the day, so it wasn’t tragic. Just a classic case of #firstworldproblems inconvenience. Though I have to say, I would much rather lack running water than have the power be out. It’s the little things, you know?

Now that we’re back to normal, our water is running, the stars are aligned and Mercury is no longer in retrograde (I don’t know, I just threw that part in there), voulez-vous une madeleine?

Madeleines_LavErlGry-ChocCoff_45-web

Madeleines_Details-02

Have you ever had a madeleine? They’re delicious little things, all buttery, spongey and elegant with their shell-like shape. A madeleine is a petite French cake made from a bunch of eggs and sugar whipped together until the batter has tripled (approximately) in volume, then butter, flour and the other necessities are folded in until the batter is uniform. The wonderful part is that they’re not hard to make. They just require a little tender, loving care and a fancy pants pan (this pan is what I have, which I purchased from Amazon for about $12). They look fancier than they actually are thanks to the specialty pan. The other great part of madeleines is that while the basic form is delicious, it’s also just as easy to add in spices, zests, and the other usual “mix-in” suspects, just like a cookie.

For some reason, I tend to be indecisive when baking these kinds of things, so I will sometimes split a batch in half and make two different versions. In this case, I made lavender earl grey madeleines and coffee chocolate chip madeleines. I will give you the recipes for each as if you made the entire recipe as a single flavor.

Madeleines_Tip1

One more thing, because I’m going to lay some knowledge down. When I bake with herbs that are kind of bulky in form that will affect the texture (for instance: full rosemary needles or lavender buds as opposed to things like dried basil), I like to grind them. I have a typical home coffee grinder appliance (this guy, actually) that I use specifically for grinding spices and herbs. Lavender is just one of those things where it really comes in handy. Lavender is lovely in looks, has a heady aroma and is all romantic to include, but does anyone really want to pick the buds out of their teeth while eating baked goods? No. No, they don’t. Use it to decorate, but don’t douse your food with it in full form unless you like picking flowers from your molars (sorry dude, just bein’ real).

Madeleines_Details

: : : Vanilla Madeleines : : :

Base recipe via Martha Stewart
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Coarse salt
6 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted, plus more, softened, for pans
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon honey
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

— PLUS —

Lavender Earl Grey
5 tsp lavender, ground
2 earl grey tea bags
1 1/2 TBSP confectioner’s sugar, for dusting
1 TBSP confectioner’s sugar, for icing
1/2-3/4 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp lavender buds for decorating

— OR —

Coffee Chocolate Chip
1 1/2 tsp ground coffee (yup, the real stuff in it’s ground form)
1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks, chopped fine (mini chocolate chips will also work)
1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate for dipping
3/4 – 1 tsp paraffin wax shavings

1. Whisk the dry ingredients (flour, baking power, and salt) in a medium bowl and set aside.

2. In bowl of stand mixer or in a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer, whisk together eggs, granulated and brown sugars with a mixer on high speed until pale and fluffy, about 10 minutes. The mixture will approximately triple in volume. Sift flour mixture over top in 2 additions, folding in after each addition. Fold in melted butter in 2 additions, then honey and vanilla.

3. Add in the mix-ins! For lavender earl grey madeleines, fold in the ground lavender and contents of two earl grey tea bags (dry, obviously) after adding the vanilla. For coffee chocolate chip, fold in the coffee grounds and chopped chocolate. Blend evenly. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 2 hours or up to two days I like to make the batter in the evening, let it sit in the refrigerator overnight and bake them the next day. It’s easy to fit them into your schedule that way.

3. When you’re ready to bake the madeleines, preheat oven to 350°. Let batter stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Generously butter the madeleine pan(s) using a pastry brush. (I put pans in parentheses because I only have one pan and I don’t want to make you feel like you need to invest in multiple!)

Madeleines_LavErlGry-ChocCoff_37-web

4. Fill piping bag (or strong plastic bag with the corner cut for a 1/2″ opening) with batter. Pipe batter into molds, filling about 3/4 full. Bake on middle rack in oven, until a pale gold, approximately 8-15 minutes. The original recipe says 8-11 minutes, but my madeleines took about 14 minutes to finish so I’m giving you a broader range. Just watch them closely! If you’re baking mini madeleines as opposed to larger ones (as seen in pics), then of course the bake time will be shorter.

5. Remove tray from oven, remove madeleines from pan and let cool. Wash pan(s) and repeat process until batter is gone.

Time to garnish!

6a. Lavender Earl Grey: Sift 1 1/2 TBSP of confectioner’s sugar over madeleines. Combine remaining 1 TBSP confectioner’s sugar with lemon juice in very small bowl. Mix well and transfer to a sandwich baggie, at the bottom in a corner. Cut off the tip for a very small opening. Pip a medium-sized bead of frosting in center of madeleine and top with one or two lavender buds.

6b. Coffee Chocolate Chip: Line a plate/baking sheet with wax paper or parchment. Melt remaining 1/3 chocolate in small bowl with paraffin wax. You can do this in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between. When melted, dip a top “corner” of each madeleine in the chocolate for an asymmetrical look. Let rest carefully on lined plate/baking sheet until dry. To speed the dry time, place in the refrigerator. Just remember to remove the madeleines carefully once dry!

7. Eat the bejeezus out of these babies. YOLO.

FOOD CRUSH: BO NUAGE

Hi. My name is Mary Lynn and I’m an obsession addict. (But what does that even mean??? she whispers in a Jim Gaffigan-style voice.) It’s kind of a really intense love-at-first-sight syndrome. I get infatuated hardcore. I mean full-on heart fluttering blood racing kind of breathless mind-overtaken-by-ideas psychosis. And not with people. With things. Trends. Ideas. Food. A song (Drake’s “Tuscan Leather” at specifically 1:57—I listened to it constantly for days). Clothes. Sparkly glittery things. And then just like that, the obsession’s done. Dead and gone. It could be a day later, or three days later. My attention span is apparently very fickle. So while I’m hot on this glorious find, let’s get to it.

Image via some guy named chris a. on yelp.com

Image via some guy named chris a. on yelp.com

BO NUAGE!!!

Image via purewow.com

Image via purewow.com

It’s a schmancy bakery in Los Angeles on Melrose run by a husband and wife team from Paris. “Nuage” is the French word for cloud. The nuage treats at Bo Nuage are little cloud cakes, i.e. layers of meringue, filled with flavored whipped cream, then covered in more whipped cream and topped with shaved white chocolate.

Cross section. Image via purewow.com

Cross section. Image via purewow.com

The bakery is chic beyond belief. LOOK AT THIS PLACE. In the words of Rachel Zoe, “I. Die.” (Quick nugget about yours truly: I’m a graphic designer by trade who designs retail stores in my every day life. Hence the reason I geek out over not just food, but interior spaces as well).

BoInteriorSlide

Image via purewow.com

But what really drew me in is the idea of those meringues. Aren’t they just gorgeous? And the mini sizes are so itty bitty and cute!! I’ve made pretty colored meringues before. I’ve bespeckled them in rainbow sprinkles, colored them lovely stripy colors, but I haven’t taken it to this level. WHY HAVEN’T I TAKEN THEM TO THIS LEVEL? I love finding these kinds of things. Even if my infatuation only lasts a few days, it gives me inspiration for my next baking project. While I have a few things in the hopper that I want to make, I’m trying to figure out when to fit these little beauties into my schedule.  

Image via la.eater.com

 

BoOverheadSlide

Image via purewow.com

BoBigCakesSlide

Image via purewow.com

Funny tidbit: the founders of Bo Nuage are actually the founders of my favorite macaron place in LA, ‘lette macarons in Beverly Hills. Go figure. Did somebody say something about a small world?

Are you in the LA area? Do me a fav (ML slang for “favor”) and check this out for me, please? And report back in full detail? And send some pics? Thanks a mill. 🙂

And while we’re at it, what are you super obsessed with lately?

GOLDEN NIGHT COCKTAIL

You know what’s awesome/not awesome at all? Technical problems. I had this post COMPLETELY. WRITTEN. And then I hit “Save Draft.” And then it told me I have an error. The specific error said “Are you sure you want to do this? Please try again later.” Um, okay. You’re asking me if I’m sure I want to save? Yeah, I’m pretty sure I do (stupid jerk). So I was like “Okay, well, it usually saves periodically throughout the process so let’s see what I have.” I HAD NOTHING. NADA. It didn’t save ever at all. UGHHHHHHH. So. Here we go. I’m going to try this again.

Cocktail_GoldenNight_011114_47-web

The weather outside may (or may not) still be frightful, but the good thing about January? It marks the beginning of Awards Season! Woo hoo! Tonight is the Golden Globes award ceremony, hosted by Amy Poehler and Tina Fey—how can you not be psyched? I love any reason to celebrate, so I use the Globes as a perfect excuse to enjoy a good cocktail in front of the telly. If you want to break free of the typical plain glass of bubbly, then come along with me while I babble about Moët’s Golden Night cocktail.

The official cocktail of the Golden Globes is Moët’s Golden Night. It consists of champagne, pear brandy, and a cardamom simple syrup. Sounds delightful, no? However, who has pear brandy sitting around? We don’t, and we have some pretty rando stuff in our liquor cabinet. You probably do too, but is one of those items pear brandy? Yes? Well then you, my friend, are lucky and you may skip ahead to the recipe posted on People’s website! If you’re like us and you DON’T happen to have pear brandy (and you don’t want to break the bank just for this), then let’s try another route.

Version 1: Since the recipe calls for a cardamom-infused simple syrup, I’ll use that as my vehicle for the pear flavor as well. My original intent was to use Jumex Pear Nectar but you know what? It was not my day because I couldn’t find it ANYWHERE. Which was annoying b/c I’ve purchased it in the past, but neither Kroger nor Whole Foods nor Giant Eagle were feelin’ me on this one. Not even World Market. Pear nectar access denied! So I settled for canned pears in 100% juice. I use the juice from the can as my liquid in the simple syrup.

Version 2: While I may not have pear brandy, I do have pear flavored liqueur (see, I told you—random!). We can try this as an alternate. It won’t have the cardamom infusion, but that could be a nice comparison study as well. I happen to have Rothman & Winter’s Orchard Pear liqueur, but I’ve also seen Mathile’s pear liqueur at my local liquor store, and there’s also Absolut Pear vodka you could try. While you may not have this readily available in your liquor stash, I recommend considering pear liqueur if you’re a fan of the flavor. It’s really lovely with…well, lots of things. Gin? Yes. Whiskey? Why not. Rum? Yeah, sure. Vodka? Obviously. Just some club soda on the rocks? Knock yourself out!

Another note: if you look closely at the photo, you’ll notice the two drinks have slightly different appearances. One is clearer, while one is a little cloudier. That’s due to the two different recipes. The clearer drink on the left is Version 2, and the cloudier drink is Version 1. So with no further ado, let’s get to it!

: : : GOLDEN NIGHT COCKTAIL ADAPTATION, V.1.0 : : :
Simple Syrup
1 can halved pears in 100% juice
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 ground cardamom
— OR —
20 cardamom pods, cracked

1. Strain the juice from the canned pears. I had about 1 c of liquid. If you’re in the ballpark, you’re golden (Get it? Golden? Not that funny? Okay, fine). Heat the liquid in a small or medium sized saucepan over medium-high heat.

2. Add the sugar and cardamom, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Let the liquid come to a simmer, then lower heat to medium. Let simmer for 7 minutes.

3. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Strain using a fine mesh strainer. If you’re using ground cardamom like I am (because that’s what’s in my pantry), the sieve won’t catch all of the spice but it will get the larger pieces. Reserve in an airtight container.

Cocktail
1 oz cardamom-pear simple syrup
1 oz brandy or cognac
4 oz sparkling wine (I opt for brut, b/c the other ingredients are already very sweet)
Splash of lemon juice

1. In a cocktail shaker filled halfway with ice, combine simple syrup, brandy, and lemon juice. Shake until cold, about 20 shakes.

2. Strain liquid into champagne flute. Top with sparkling wine. Garnish with a slice of fresh pear, if you’re feeling extra fancy! Sip, and enjoy Tina & Amy’s opening dialogue!

: : : GOLDEN NIGHT COCKTAIL ADAPTATION, V.2.0 : : :
1 oz brandy or cognac
1 oz pear flavored liqueur
4 oz sparkling wine (again, I opt for brut due to sweetness of the above)

Follow the same steps as the first cocktail, but minus the lemon juice.

So my favorite of the two? It’s actually Version 1! The touch of cardamom is really nice and matches up with pear very well. It’s a bit sweeter, but that’s where the lemon juice comes in. It’s not a part of the original recipe, but I added it to help cut the sweetness and add a touch of brightness. Version 2 is good but much more subtle, so if that’s your thing then go for it! Otherwise, the flavors are much more prevalent in Version 1.

How about you? Are you a fan of awards season? Do you get out the bubbly/wine/gin & tonic/what-have-you and indulge in red carpet time? Whose dress are you excited to see (come on, we all know it’s about the ladies!) and who are you rooting to win?  I’m always a Jennifer Lawrence fan but then again, who isn’t nowadays?

STRONG DRINKS: BRONX COCKTAIL

Cocktail_Bronx_010414_DSC_0698-web800

So. Here we are. Seven posts and a little over a month in and no drinks. Isn’t that part of the title? And no bevs? Where are the bevs? Well don’t you worry your pretty little face, I got your bev right here.

First, let’s talk about the word “bev.” Bev is my long-time term of endearment for an alcoholic beverage (beverage being the operative word here). Used properly in a sentence: “It’s 6:30 on a Friday night. It’s time for a bev,” or “Let’s go for a happy hour bev.”

It’s five o’clock somewhere, and I need a bev. Don’t you?

Now let’s talk about this fine tipple, the Bronx. It’s a classic gin-based drink that originates in the early part of the 20th century. It’s basically a perfect martini with added orange juice. What do I mean by perfect? Do I mean it’s perfectly awesome? No. “Perfect,” in cocktail world, means the drink contains equal parts of both dry and sweet vermouth.

Cocktail-Brox_Tip_Vermouth

I was first introduced to the Bronx at a local fancy-pants restaurant with a great cocktail list. However, it wasn’t called a Bronx; they called it something more suitable to their brand’s personality, so it took me awhile to figure out what it actually was. Lo and behold, one magical day I stumbled upon this drink and was so excited to finally know there was an official recipe that could take me to this happy place. There’s a similar drink called the Minnehaha; it’s mostly the same ingredients but with a different proportions. Since the Bronx is the more classic, standard drink on the docket, we’re going that route.

I should note: a typical Bronx does not call for bitters, but I often like to add bitters to my drinks to deepen the flavors. But more about that on another day. Grab your cocktail shaker and let’s mix this drink!

::: BRONX COCKTAIL :::
2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce dry vermouth
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
1 ounce fresh orange juice
4-5 dashes Peychaud’s bitters (optional)

1. Grab a rocks glass and a cocktail shaker. Fill both with ice.

2. Pour the gin, dry vermouth, sweet vermouth, and orange juice into the cocktail shaker. Shake for 20 seconds.

3. Strain into rocks glass. Add the dashes of bitters.

4. Sip. Smile. Enjoy.

SUNDAY NIGHT GLUTEN-FREE QUINOA OATMEAL

Oatmeal_010114_15-web

With the new year just beginning, I thought I’d share one of my (relatively) healthy recipes with you guys. Let me start out by saying very clearly that I do not have Celiac Disease. I generally do not have a problem digesting gluten. But after reading a bunch of stuff on people who have gone gluten-free, I decided to give it a try. I kept coming across articles or hearing from other people how giving up gluten helped solve some of their random health issues. People had less sinus problems. Less muscle aches. Headache problems went away. Skin problems cleared up. Other allergies seemed to disappear. Is it merely a coincidence? Or was gluten really the culprit? I suffer from headaches the majority of the time; it’s more rare for me to NOT have a headache of sorts. Then I somehow, totally randomly, came down with asthma a little over two years ago. Where the heck did that come from? The headaches were bad enough, so I’ve been curious about trying to go GF for awhile. I assumed it would be really hard and didn’t put enough time and energy into figuring out how to make it work for my eating habits. A friend turned me onto quinoa pasta, which we’ve actually been using for probably the past three years. And you know what? It’s good! But that’s about as far as I got because it just seemed really daunting.

The final straw came after our honeymoon. The Sunday night after our wedding—the night before we were supposed to leave for our honeymoon—I got the stomach flu. Awesome. Fabulous. It wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been, I’ll thank my lucky stars for that, but we still had to postpone our trip one day and take a trip to the emergency room at 4:30 in the morning. Hey, in sickness and in health, right?? After a few IV bags of fluid and some prescription nausea meds, I was doing much better. But it still took several days to be officially back to normal and I’m not sure I ever got back to 100%, honestly. Even after we were back, even three weeks later, I noticed a change in my digestive system. I was on a soup kick (after being sick I found it comforting and just stuck with it), and Campbell’s just didn’t sit right. I used to eat Lean Cuisines at lunch (easy, affordable, could keep a stash in the freezer at work, pair it with a salad and stay in a good calorie range) but those, I noticed, weren’t digesting quite right either. I don’t know if it was the stomach flu that made me notice these things or what, but that was when I finally decided that I needed to make a change. I wanted to try eating cleaner. I’m not completely clean—I don’t do organic everything—but this processed food thing has got to change. And while I’m at it, it’s a good time to see if that gluten-free thing will help as well. Read More →

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Happy New Year everyone! Cheers to all the wonderful, exciting, bright things to come in 2014.

HappyNewYear-2014_MainImage

Side note on the bubbly: we’re drinking Brut Rosé from Mumm Napa, a souvenir from our trip to Napa Valley at the end of October. According to Mumm, the Brut Rosé “…offers a bouquet of ripe Pinot Noir fruit, rich with black cherry and strawberry notes.” If you head out to California wine country, we HIGHLY recommend going to Mumm. It was a great experience all around. We sat on a gorgeous patio with a great view, and each of us received three very full champagne flutes for our tasting. None of that “Here’s a measly splash that we’re making you pay $25 for while standing at a counter,” kind of thing. No no. And we didn’t even have to upgrade to some sort of extra fancy experience. We just walked in at 11:30 am on a weekday. Awesome!

Tell us: have you visited Napa? What was your favorite winery or experience?

MummNapa_Tasting_102313_15-web

MummNapa_Tasting_102313_10-web

MummNapa_Tasting_102313_30-web